Netanyahu pulls back from firm commitment on Palestinian state

Wednesday, June 12, 2013 |  Ryan Jones

Just hours before departing for Poland, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his staff on Wednesday were hurriedly trying to put out fires over just how committed the Israeli leader is to the creation of a Palestinian Arab state.

At the conclusion of their summit in Warsaw, Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart were to sign a joint statement regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The problem is that junior aides in the Prime Minister's Office apparently drafted and sent the statement to the press before Netanyahu or his senior advisers had read it.

The draft statement went a bit further toward committing Israel to the birth of a Palestinian state than Netanyahu was comfortable with.

Netanyahu has publicly stated that he is in favor of a process that concludes with the creation of a Palestinian state, but the draft statement declared that the establishment of such a state is "not in doubt" - effectively committing Israel to that outcome regardless of what transpires on the ground.

Netanyahu immediately distanced himself from the draft statement, and as the prime minister departed for Poland it was still unclear exactly what he would sign in Warsaw.

Netanyahu's staff told Ha'aretz that he remains ready to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians at any time, without preconditions, and that he remains in favor of the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. However, that state must come about as a result of bilateral talks and compromise, it must be demilitarized, and it must recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

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